Load Testing SQL Server Databases<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Most dba’s have experience with designing a well-tuned SQL Server database.  A well-tuned design doesn’t always mean that your database will perform quickly once implemented. The best next step toward understanding the performance potential of your SQL Server database is to actual perform load testing on the database and application.

There are several free tools from Microsoft that can help.  The most popular tool for performance tests against the IO subsystem with an IO stress tool to test system performance before deploying SQL Server is called SQLIO.exe.  SQLIO.exe is an unsupported tool provided by Microsoft to accomplish this and is now available at http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/3/f/f3f92f8b-b24e-4c2e-9e86-

d66df1f6f83b/SQLIO.msi.

There are also some great third-party tools such as Mercury Interactive’s LoadRunner and WinRunner and Quest Software’s Benchmark Factory.

One last note – true load testing requires a well-thought methodology.  I recommend you take a look at the whitepaper "Centralized Application Performance Testing: Maturing Large IT Organizations" from LoadTester Incorporated (http://www.loadtester.com).  The whitepaper was written by my friend, Scott Moore, and incorporates many of his thoughts around a Performance Center of Excellence.  It surprises my how many companies truly need to understand the Performance Center of Excellence before they embark on the load testing.

Have you done any load testing on your own SQL Server databases?  How did you do it?

Let me know what you think.

Cheers!

-Kevin